Sexual Health in Poly
So, a little question about the sensibilities of poly... ;)
I am curious as to how often it is sensible to get tested for STDs/STIs.
In the past, I have been monogamous and was tested before each new relationship.
Now I'm poly and my girlfriend is about to sleep with a new person.
He has recently been tested and showed her the certificates. However, he has about 3 other very casual partners at the minute and is looking for more, so he's got a lot of activity going on.
My primary girlfriend and I currently live long distance - I won't be seeing her for another 6 weeks. I told her that I would like her to be tested just before I arrive, to err on the safe side. She wasn't sure that it was necessary, since they will practice safe sex and he's currently clean.
How do you guys deal with it? Do you get tested routinely (i.e. every X number of months), regardless of the amount of partners you have? Do you only get tested when you have a new partner?
Thanks in advance for the advice!
(GalaGirl, if you're reading this... I know you'll have something to say!)
Tests are valid until the next sexual act (not simply intercourse) and then they are void. If you're worried about it, getting tested is not going to change that. Don't fluid bond with partners that sleep around. Sure, condoms only protect so much but still, that's why it's called safer sex and not safe sex.
Ordinarily I'd get, and expect my partners to get, tested every year. (My husband agreed to hold himself and his partners to the same standard, and one of them ended up finding she was positive for a high risk HPV strain because of this). I'd get tested once a year period during non-monogamous times, regardless of if any NEW partners were added on any side.
However we found out last year my husband is HSV2 positive (he just got that test added as it's not a normal test, and he's thinking he got it in the mid 90's from somebody who let him know after the fact she had it) so I am getting tested every 6 months, since I don't have it after 7 years, and my boyfriend doesn't want it, and if I get it it'd end our ability to have intercourse. If we broke up and new partners didn't feel so strongly about it, I'd go back to 1x a year.
There are no guarantees for HPV since it there's no test for men, so all you can do it decide where your risk boundaries lie, and what your barrier requirements are (and it doesn't hurt to get screened every 6 months for oral cancer by your dentist). HSV2 doesn't necessarily show up for up to a few months, so recent tests aren't 100% against that. Condoms for vaginal/anal/oral sex pretty much cover all STI's except for those (well except that new strain of drug resistant strain of gonorrhea?) So barriers for everything is what we do with new partners at least, so we don't have to sit around worrying so much.
At some point when a situation seems long term and stable, barrier changes can be discussed with all relevant partners at that point. For us specifically though, that point wouldn't ever come with somebody who had regular new/casual partners for us, there would always be barriered oral/etc sex with them just to minimize stress and risk, so we didn't have to deal with OSO's metamours sticking to our level of testing.
Another complicating issue in this is that some STD's don't show up right away, so you could get tested after having sex, it be negative, but you are infected (and, presumably, are infectious). This is the "incubation period" or "Window period" of a disease.
For most STDs it's a few days to a week, but for others it's a lot longer. Syphilis takes 10 to 90 days, HIV can be anywhere from 2 months to 6 months, Hep B is 60 to 90 days.
So you have to bear that in mind when you are thinking about testing plans and safer sex with your partner.
If I have a regular partner whom I`m barebacking and who`s barebacking other partners, I`d feel comfortable with every 3 months. If it`s sex with a stranger(s), I`d want to use condoms or see everyone`s clean bill of health on the spot. I know there are still risks, but those are risks I`m willing to take. Otherwise, 6 months to a year.
Although, I`m in violation of my own rules ATM. I think because I`ve worn condoms for the past year and a half with one exception, and I have no regular partner. I`ve also found no convenient location to be tested since I moved where I currently live.
Have you done a search of the forums? This has been discussed in a few other threads. You will likely find lots of good information in some of the threads linked below. Hope they gives you some insight:
Safe Sex - Standards, Practices, Information & Resources
HPV - Shouldn't we talk about it?
Our agreement is:
before any new partners and every 6 months AND use protection always.
WE are fluid bonded. But protection with ANY other partners and EVERYONE gets tested every 6 months in addition to ANY TIME ANY ONE OF THE PARTNERS adds a new partner.
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